Corn Tortillas

Total Time:
1 hr 30 min
Prep:
30 min
Inactive:
30 min
Cook:
30 min

Yield:
14 to 16 tortillas
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds Nixtamal, recipe follows
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions

Place the Nixtamal into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 10 to 15 times. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse 8 to 10 times, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add 2 more tablespoons of water along with the salt and pulse until a dough begins to form. If the dough is still dry and somewhat crumbly, add the remaining tablespoon of water and pulse several times. Turn the dough out onto the counter and shape into a ball. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 minutes. *You may also make tortillas from pre-ground masa flour following the directions on the bag.

Preheat a cast iron griddle over medium-high heat until it reaches 400 degrees F.

Divide the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions, shape into balls, and keep covered with a damp tea towel.

Cut a 1-gallon zip-top bag in half and line the base of a tortilla press with the plastic. Place 1 ball at a time onto the press and top with the other half of the plastic. Close the press and push down firmly several times until the tortilla is flattened. Remove the plastic wrap from the tortilla and place onto the cast iron skillet and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove the tortilla to a plate lined with a tea towel. Cover the tortilla with a second towel to keep warm. Repeat with all of the dough. Use immediately or store in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Nixtamal:

1 pound dried corn kernels, approximately 2 cups

6 cups water

1/2-ounce slaked lime* (commonly called cal), approximately 2 tablespoons

*Cook's Note: Both dried corn and slaked lime (cal) are available online and in most Latin markets.

Rinse the corn under cool water; drain and set aside.

Place the water and the lime into a 3 1/2 to 4-quart, non-reactive stockpot, set over medium-low heat, and stir to combine. Add the corn and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure that it takes at least 30 to 45 minutes to come to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit at room temperature overnight. Do not refrigerate.

Drain the corn in a large colander and rinse under lukewarm water for 5 to 6 minutes while rubbing the corn kernels between your fingers in order to remove the outer coating. Place the corn into a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water, and allow to soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat. Use immediately to make masa dough for tortillas.

Yield: approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pounds nixtamal

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 12 hours


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    Alton you are the best! With your knowledge & step by step instructions I have learned so much & have cooked things I never thought was possible. This one is another great one I am adding to my book! Thanks
    I love this recipe. I've made nixtamal for corn tortillas and tamales before, using a meat grinder, but the food processor yielded better results and in far less time. I can only imagine the time it must take to grind the corn by matate y mano.
     

     
    I think perhaps that those who oppose this method must be entrenched in their traditions, which isn't a bad thing, it's actually fantastic. I love to see traditional food preparation and other traditions being passed down. However, for those of us who still want the authentic cuisine, but not the time for it, we welcome with open arms the newer time-saving methods of preparation.
     

     
    Thank you Alton Brown!
     

     
    Your world's greatest fan! *snicker*
    First of all, if your masa is "too coarse" just blend it a little more. Second, of course the masa was yellow, it was corn tortillas! And i see nothing wrong with his method. Flipping it excessively is a strange practice which i have never heard of.
    Nice attempt, Alton, but as usual, it falls far short. Like an earlier reviewer said, masa should never be minced, but ground. If you don't have the right equipment, get your masa from the tortilla factory or resort to one of the packaged instant masa brands. The texture is far too coarse when using a food processor.
     

     
    Furthermore, I can't believe how yellow his masa was! A sure sign of incorrectly made masa: too much lime/cal, the wrong corn, or overcooked dough; tortillas should be a nice toasty white, not sunshine yellow. They'll be much more flavorful and tender if the masa is prepared properly.
     

     
    Finally, his method for cooking the tortillas was abysmal! The first side should be cooked for 10-15 seconds, then flipped and cooked for another 30 seconds, and then flipped back again to cook for 10-15 more seconds. If they're properly cooked, they should puff up like little pillows at this point.
     

     
    Ditch Alton and check out a Diana Kennedy (or even Rick Bayless) book from the library if you're interested in quality Mexican cuisine.
    Easy once you find the lime in something other that a 50 pound bag. I found it in the grocery home canning section as pickling lime. Very chewy and BIG corn flavor! I found that the food processor works fine (contrary to other opinions).
    All good all the time. Takes a little prep work though.
    You need to grind the masa, not mince it. Don't waste your time.
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    Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse